News from Washington's Workers' Comp & Workplace Safety Leader
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The WSIA Weekly, 2.12.16

Labor & Industries releases interim report of Benefit Accuracy Group
Upon direction by the Legislature in 2015, the Department of Labor & Industries has been holding meetings of the Benefit Accuracy Working Group, an employer-labor-department collaborative organized to look at wage calculation improvements. WSIA championed this legislation last year as an initial step toward trying to reach consensus solutions on wage simplification issues. As reported on our blog, the Department released the first interim report of the group's activities, discussing the problem statement under consideration, evidence of difficulties with wage calculation, and next steps. Take a look at the brief report here.

Supreme Court grants review in Birrueta
Earlier this week, the Washington Supreme Court issued an order accepting the Department of Labor & Industries' petition for review in Birrueta, a case involving the time frames for recouping an overpayment on the basis of a claimant's misrepresentation - in this instance, a pension calculated on the basis of claiming to have dependents without actually having dependents. In a previous decision, the Court of Appeals collapsed the statutory one-year recoupment window down to 60 days. L&I sought the high court's review, and WSIA, in a joint brief with the Association of Washington Business, urged the court to take the case. Arguments should be held later this spring, with a decision late this year or in early 2017. More case background here.

New language on reopenings suggested for Structured Settlements
After a recent interpretation by the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals that stock Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement (CRSSA) language requiring objective worsening of a condition to reopen a claim is a misstatement of the law that requires rejection of the agreement, the Department of Labor & Industries has suggested new language for use in CRSSAs to avoid this trap. More information, and a copy of the new language, is available on our blog

A slower pace at the Legislature this week - more to come next week
The 60-day legislative session hit its midpoint earlier this week, and bills that were proposed earlier in the session have started winnowing down as work moves from legislative committees to the floor of both chambers. So far, the only bill WSIA has been watching that has passed through a chamber of the Legislature is HB 2805, which requires Labor & Industries to adopt a rule mandating hazardous exposure reporting for firefighters. The measure, which requires a rule that would likely be costly for municipalities, cleared the House by a vote of 80-17. Both the House and the Senate are working against a deadline of next Wednesday, at which point a bill must have passed the chamber in which it was proposed in order to remain alive. More activity on workers' comp and safety-related bills is anticipated next week. For more information, check out our weekly legislative updates page

New two-part claims management webinar series added
We've just added a new two-part series to our claims management webinars for the spring. For part one, on March 31st, attorney Natalee Fillinger will be taking us through legal and claims management of mental health conditions. For part two, on April 7th, industry veterans Julie Busch and Charita Dumas will provide best practices on the selection of vendors and consultants in the management of workers' comp claims. The March 31st presentation is L&I-approved for 1 statutory and .5 claims management credits, while Department accreditation is pending for April 7th. Click here for more information and registration on Natalee's webinar, and here for more information and registration on Julie and Charita's webinar.

L&I releases lumbar fusion update
Earlier this week, L&I released a reminder of its coverage decision on lumbar fusion, noting lumbar fusion for degenerative disc disease uncomplicated by comorbidities it will not be covered effective March 7th, 2016.

Department unveils "My L&I"
Earlier this week, Labor & Industries unveiled the new interface for the Secure L&I access system, now called "My L&I," organizing various department information resources around a series of dashboards to improve navigation. Take a look here.

WSIA Closed Monday
WSIA's office will be closed Monday in observance of President's Day. Have a great weekend.

New website spotlight:

As part of our short newsletter series highlighting features of our new website, this week we're looking at the new membership directory, accessible from our members-only area of the site. Online, constantly updated, and easily searchable. Use your member login to access the directory, and while logged in, make any updates to your record!

Check out our full Calendar of Events

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